In Memoriam: Lecile Harris
On February 12, 2020, the rodeo world lost one of its most prominent rodeo clowns. His family posted on facebook: “With immense and unbelievable sadness, I regret to inform everyone that Lecile Harris passed peacefully in his sleep last night after completing the Dixie Nationals Rodeo in Jackson, Mississippi.” Just prior to the Dixie National, Harris had brought another Rodeo of the Mid-South to a successful conclusion on Saturday January 18.
The 85-year-old, born in Lake Cormorant, MS, began his career in rodeo as a bull rider, but soon shifted to bull fighting and rodeo clown. He later earned a reputation as one of the top bull fighters in the business. He was named PRCA Clown of the Year four times: in 1992, 1994, 1995, and 1996. He was a 2007 inductee into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. And Lecile had recently been named a Class of 2020 Inductee into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame in “the Legends” category. For over 60 years Lecile served as ambassador for the sport and was a popular entertainer.
In an interview with the Jackson Free Press in 2016, Harris told how he danced with bulls in his early days as a bullfighter/clown. “The bull dancing came about accidentally,” he said. “When I was young, around 1956, I would work the entire rodeo. The bull riding was usually the last event, so the announcer would play a rock 'n' roll song, and I would comedy dance for the crowd. At the end of each performance, they would turn out a fighting bull, and I would pair up and dance with it. Sometimes (the bulls) were hot enough that when I made my moves, they would do the same, and it looked like we were dancing. I danced with a bull at every rodeo until I retired from fighting.”
Lecile authored a book (2015) “This Ain’t My First Rodeo,” a collection of stories about bull riders and his personal rodeo experiences – stories that he could tell without getting anyone into trouble. Sadly, the Dixie National Rodeo was his Last Rodeo. He had resided in Collierville, Tenn. with his wife of 63 years, Ethel.
Legacy, Genevieve. 2016. Lecile Harris. Jackson Free Press. Feb. 2. https://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/feb/02/lecile-harris/
WJTV. 2020. Legendary rodeo clown passes away following Dixie National Rodeo. Feb. 13. https://www.wjtv.com/news/legendary-rodeo-clown-passes-away-following-dixie-national-rodeo/
Facebook: Lecile Harris
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